Every September, business majors and prospective students have the opportunity to attend a one-day event on the campus of Truckee Meadows Community College—a free conference packed morning to afternoon with information, mentorship, breakout sessions, speaker panel and a scavenger hunt with prizes.
The conference is Business Studies Orientation Day (O-Day).
Local entrepreneur digital marketer and empowerment speaker Juan V. Lopez was one of the featured guest panelists this year at the event on Sept. 16. He has led personal development sessions at more than 75 schools, events, and organizations; appeared on TEDx University of Nevada (UNR); and holds an MBA from UNR. Lopez believes students most definitely benefit from participating in O-Day.
“100 percent,” he said. “You can meet someone there who gives you a new perspective. It’s an amazing opportunity to hear from people who are in the middle of building their business; who have some skin in the game.”
Students were able to meet and greet TMCC business faculty, eat lunch with the guest speakers and instructors, and take part in a raffle. The first 25 students that arrived also received a free T-shirt.
Reno-Sparks’ Vibrant Business Community
Guest panelists at O-Day covered a wide range of business topics and trends. Lopez spoke to the entrepreneurially-minded, and to those wanting to get an idea of the local business environment in order to take full advantage of what the region has to offer.
“Overall, this is an amazing time period for entrepreneurs, for people with an idea,” he said. “You can start a website easily now, find hashtags for sharing content, and get crowd funding. Reno is a vibrant area, especially with the mentorship resources available at the ‘Innevation’ Center and Nevada Small Business Development Center.”
He said that Northern Nevada is being noticed, too.
“People outside the area are seeing us as a hub—it’s a very good environment right now,” he added. “The people who are in the middle of success are very giving, supportive of people who are coming next.”
Lopez thinks that it’s wise to get training and skills in the business field because many entry-level jobs are shrinking due to automation.
“Data analysis is also a growing area—there is so much Web-based information available, that if people are trained in this, they can offer huge value to businesses,” he said.
In addition to Lopez, guest panelists include:
- Barbara Painter, Executive Assistant to TMCC's Vice President of Academic Affairs
- Brian Cooper, Co-founder of Winey Munkies
- Estefania Flores, Project Manager at Accenture, now working on MBA
- Ryan Moser, JD, Attorney at Auirre Riley
Soft Skills Highly Important
Many employers now are looking for individuals with finely-tuned soft skills.
“I think most people can learn the hard skills necessary to succeed,” Lopez said. "But some of the qualities I think that truly make someone a valuable asset as they’re seeking a career are things like adaptability, problem solving, critical thinking, grit, self-awareness and communication.”
He said that a student may obtain a degree in one area, but be able to use soft skills to broaden the range of career opportunities available to him or her—adaptability is a vital soft skill.
“We should be building ourselves on emotional intelligence, problem-solving,” he added. “Yes, creativity, 100 percent.”
Lopez is a self-empowerment speaker, focusing on personal and human development.
“I’ve had a speech impediment, a stutter my whole life,” he said. “I went through a lot of self-doubt. I came to a point of accepting it rather than seeing it as a mountain I had to overcome. I spent so long in a fight with it, I wasn’t moving forward in my life.”
He mentors others to find peace and understanding with themselves, but then to take responsibility for their own road ahead.
“As soon as you accept who you are fully, you can move forward,” Lopez said. “Work ethic and perspective are under your control.”
He said it’s all about hard work and persistence.
“I serve and help people, and am living the life I want,” he adds. “It’s important how you got here, but it’s more important in going forward today.”
For more information about business, logistics and entrepreneurship studies at TMCC, please contact the Business Department at 775-673-7132.